Johns Hopkins has qualified for seven NCAA Division III postseasons since 2005, including the past five. Moving deep into the tournament hasn't been quite as frequent.
The No. 8 Blue Jays (11-0) are 1-2 in the second round of the playoffs and have lost in their past two appearances. They were bounced in 2012 by eventual national champion Mount Union, 55-13, and then dropped a heartbreaking 24-21 decision to Hobart last fall.
Johns Hopkins will try to end the skid this Saturday at 12 p.m. when No. 11 Wesley (10-1) visits Homewood Field, but senior inside linebacker Keith Corliss said he and his teammates aren't dwelling on past results.
"I don't think it worries us at all," he said Tuesday morning. "We're a completely new team every season, and we lose some really talented players and we gain some really talented players and everyone gets a year older. We've been unlucky not to have made it past the second round since I've been here, but I think we have an incredibly talented team and a lot of smart guys who know how to play football. So we're just excited to get out there, and we're not going to worry about what happened in the past. We're going to try to get a win like we have every single week."
Senior strong safety Brady Watts said the players are well aware that the program has not enjoyed a trip to the quarterfinals since 2009.
"I think we all know that, but it's definitely not something that we spend a lot of time focusing on or start thinking about because once you start doing that, that's when you get distracted and the next thing you know, you wind up losing," he said. "So, we're doing our best to keep that stuff on the back burner, and we're taking it one game at a time."
Coach Jim Margraff said the motivation for the players and coaches should be simple.
"Right now, you win or your season's over," he said. "So that's really the only motivation you need. It doesn't make a difference who you're playing or what the reward might be. The reward is playing more football. Our guys enjoy playing and they enjoy being together, and I think that is more of the focus right now. You're in a win-or-go-home mentality. There's only 16 teams left in the country from almost 300. So we're proud of what we've accomplished so far, but we'd like to keep playing if we can."